The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Zimbabwean Food
Zimbabwe’s food has many similarities with some of its Sub-Saharan African neighbors. Most of the people in the top four countries with the most similar food speak Bantu languages. However, these four countries were colonized by Great Britain so English is an official language in them.
- Zambia is on Zimbabwe’s northern border. The ubiquitous sadza, a maize-based porridge, is a culinary cornerstone in both nations. Furthermore, dishes like nshima in Zambia closely resemble Zimbabwe’s sadza, showcasing a shared appreciation for hearty, starch-centric meals. However, Zimbabwe tends to eat more cassava.
- Tanzania and Zimbabwe share a love for ugali, a stiff porridge made from maize. Beef is the most widely consumed meat in these nations. Both countries incorporate freshwater fish into its meals as well. Furthermore, banana is by far the most popular fruit in Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
- Kenya shares a love for grilled meats with Zimbabwe. This resonates with Zimbabwe’s tradition of ‘braai,’ where meat, often beef or chicken, is barbecued. Furthermore, corn and wheat are their two most commonly eaten starches. The prevalence of ugali and the inclusion of vegetables in Kenyan dishes is similar in Zimbabwe.
- Eswatini is another landlocked country located in Southern Africa, so it shares cultural and historical ties with Zimbabwe. The culinary connection is evident in the shared love for maize-based staples like sadza. Both nations also appreciate the use of locally available meats, with beef being the most common protein source.
- Paraguay, though located in South America, exhibits interesting parallels with Zimbabwe. Corn holds a central place in Paraguayan cuisine, much like in Zimbabwe. Both nations share a tradition of preparing soups, often featuring meats, vegetables, and legumes. Beef and chicken are the most consumed meats in these countries.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Zimbabwean Food
Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Zimbabwe are located on tropical islands in the Pacific Ocean, so their climates get significantly more rainfall. These four countries tend to eat a lot of fish from the ocean, in contrast to landlocked Zimbabwe.
- Kiribati is an archipelago of small islands located in the Pacific Ocean. Coconuts and saltwater fish are commonly eaten staple foods in Kiribati, unlike in Zimbabwe, where beef and chicken are more popular.
- Solomon Islands is a Melanesian country located near Papua New Guinea. The country’s diet is much more reliant on sweet potato, yam, taro, and coconut than Zimbabwe. In addition, most of its protein is from saltwater fish.
- Micronesia is yet another group of small tropical islands in the Pacific Ocean on this list. As a result, their diet is heavily based on seafood. Furthermore, coconut is a bigger part of Micronesia’s cuisine than Zimbabwe’s.
- Samoa is a Polynesian country. Samoan dishes often feature taro, breadfruit, coconut, and a variety of tropical fruits. Seafood, such as fish and shellfish, is a staple due to Samoa’s coastal location.
- Poland borders the Baltic Sea. The country is known for its sausages, sauerkraut, and dishes served with sour cream. Pork and dairy products are not nearly as popular in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, potatoes are not as commonly consumed in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Beef, Chicken
Fruit: Banana, Lemon
Vegetable: Tomato, Peanut
Starch: Corn, Wheat
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.